Wednesday, October 20, 2021

31. Cofield on Oxford — Heart and Soul

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1895 Map of Lafayette County – Oxford and Ole Miss have been side-by-side for 166 years

If my heart belongs to Ole Miss, my soul is Oxford’s. “Oxonians” has never rung true to our ears, and so we are self-proclaimed…Oxford folks.
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Lee Corso thinks Oxford is just fine. Garrett Ochoa writes, “Ran into Lee Corso on The Square, no big deal.”

We’re Oxford Rebels! It’s a dual citizenship shared by lucky Lafayette dwellers and envied by all who know what’s what around these parts.
GameDay’s Corso communicated, “This town is the DEFINITION of Southern!” And so it is, so it is. But, along with Faulkner’s Square and all the moonlight & magnolias one can cram into a single village, there is a wild card.
It’s one we think we own, that we feel some inherited stewardship over, or at least hold part of the mortgage on. Equal parts parent and vicarious best friend, Oxford is. But make no mistake about our wild card, just when you think you’ve seen it all at Mr. Bill’s courthouse, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Because you have not seen our jokers rear their fun-loving heads. You haven’t seen…the Students.
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Fall and Rebel football go together like peanut butter and jelly. North Lamar in the Fall – Photo courtesy Visit Oxford

On the backseat, me and my little brother were on our knees, pressed against the front seat, not missing a word of this Sunday drive with Mom and Dad. Fall and all the changes, that are uniquely Oxford’s, were in the wind. Mother wondered if any of the boys and girls were back. Town folks know well this calm before the student storm. I’d say it was 50 to 60 yards ahead and from the right side that the blur of a car came sliding sideways into the middle of North Lamar, fishtailed big, straighten up, stomped the gas and peeled out, leaving me and little brother gape-mouthed. Half smirk, half smile, Dad said, “Yeah, they’re back.”
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David Kellum

Oxford’s own David Kellum saw them coming too. The emotions of the years as Home of the Ole Miss Rebels spilled into the mic as the words rang true to all Rebels…”the students are pouring onto the field!” And they didn’t just take down the goal posts, they left with them.
It was the Grove’s finest hour. Even wide-eyed Rebel veterans have known no sweeter victory smiles. ESPN’s producer has…”never seen anything like it.” And no one had ever imagined the sight of the student body coming to top the “Holy grail of tailgating” with her first Johnny Vaught crown. And, it is a dual visitorship to our Lafayette County that brought out sweet music to Oxford’s ears, “On to the Square!”
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Goal post on The Square. The celebrations went long into the night.

I don’t know what happened last Saturday night at the courthouse in Pontotoc, Batesville, Holly Springs or New Albany. Because nothing short of a foreign military attack would have been noticed from Oxford. Up University Avenue they paraded, those students of ours. Finally to our core was brought a long yellow aluminum tube. Hemingway’s stadium was the lesser, Faulkner’s Square the greater. And there erected on Oxford’s front porch, like the proud cat with the canary, the Students showed off their trophy, our trophy. And, again, renewed was a bond that stretches back to 1848. Our love and lore grew stronger still, as the sun set on Saturday, October 4, 2014. And for Oxford folks, it was pure heart and soul.


Courtesy of John Cofield, a HottyToddy.com writer and one of Oxford’s leading folk historians. He is the son of renowned university photographer Jack Cofield. His grandfather, “Col.” J. R. Cofield, was William Faulkner’s personal photographer and for decades was Ole Miss yearbook photographer. Cofield attended Ole Miss as well. Contact John at johnbcofield@gmail.com.

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